It is not just Australian experts in economics who find this whole policy to be both counterproductive as well as bizarre. Consider what one group of international economists associated with the Hartwell Group have said about this. They claim that the European Union’s ETS has been basically about a means for banks and hedge funds to make more money.
The group’s spokesman, Professor Gwyn Prins of the London School of Economics made the case this way: “There’s not credible evidence that it’s had any affect in accelerating reductions in carbon dioxide in Europe.” That in itself is an alarming admission.
Says one journalist, “According to the Hartwell Group, not only has the emissions trading scheme not delivered a difference in emissions, it’s also opened opportunities for corrupt behaviour, allowing people to buy credits in one country only to sell them in another where GST-style taxes are higher. The difference in the prices can net the seller big money.”
Gwyn Prins explains, “This is not a sensible way of trying to deal with a really important and sensitive and serious issue for the future, which is, how we lighten our footprint on the planet so that we live better lives now and so that we make sure that we hand on a planet in good order to our children. What we’re doing at the moment is not any of those things, through these policies. But it has created rich opportunities for people to make money in sometimes pretty dodgy ways.”
Returning to Australia, the Opposition Leader asked a few good questions about this tax. Said Tony Abbott, “Why should we trust this government with a new tax when we know where it will all end: with more spending, more waste and more spin.
“So I say ‘no’ to a carbon tax because I say ‘yes’ to manufacturing in Australia and ‘yes’ to affordable electricity and transport. The whole point of this carbon tax is to make coal, gas and oil more expensive. The price signal won’t work if the price isn’t high. The tax doesn’t work if it doesn’t hurt.
“It has to make turning on your heater more expensive and make using transport more expensive to work. Under a carbon tax, Australians won’t use less steel, aluminium, and cement – we will just import them from countries without a carbon tax and without any plan to reduce their own emissions.
“The world’s emissions won’t change at all but Australia will have fewer jobs because there is no such thing as a solar-powered steel mill, a wind-driven motor manufacturing plant, an electric passenger plane or cheap base load power other than from coal or gas.”
Columnist Piers Akerman pointed out some home truths about this tax: “Not since the notorious Loans Affair contributed to the Whitlam’s government’s timely downfall has there been a fraud attempted on the scale of Julia Gillard’s great carbon tax con.
“Before working out how much you might make or how much it might cost you, remember this: no other nation on this planet is attempting to implement an economy wide carbon tax or emissions trading scheme. Then think on this: the giant tax will not affect the climate at all. And ponder the question: why are we to suffer this new and stifling layer of bureaucracy? The facts speak for themselves. Money is being taken from you for no real reason.
“Some will be handed back as a sweetener and indeed, some people might even believe they are (slightly) better off. That will be an illusion because the national economy will be worse off as businesses lose their competitive edge and export their jobs to kindlier countries. No-one can be better off as the nation falls further behind its competitors.
Labor politicians pushing this don’t seem to have a clue: “On Sky television, Swan was asked a simple question by interviewer David Speers: will Australia’s domestic emissions go up or down? That question is at the heart of this whole con because Gillard and the Greens and the Independents are about to embark on a massive campaign to convince the public that the national and the global environment depend on this tax for their future.
“Swan said emissions would definitely go down. He was wrong. The modelling released Sunday plainly shows that from 2010 to 2020, emissions are forecast to increase from 578 million tonnes to 621 millions tonnes, a 43 million tonne increase in domestic emissions. Swan later conceded this in a text message to Speers.
“His initial response demonstrates either a complete inability to understand his own tax – which is perfectly understandable as he is possibly the worst Treasurer the nation has ever had – or that he failed the honesty test – which is also understandable given his remarks before the last election about the introduction of a carbon tax being ‘wildly hysterical’.”
In conclusion, I like what writer Paul Murray had to say about all this: “Unsurprisingly, most Australians cannot understand how the Government’s plan will cut carbon emissions because the carbon tax package has more to do with redistributing wealth.
“It does this in two ways, one affecting the commerce of publicly owned companies and the other the private incomes of citizens. The climate change package essentially moves cash flow from individuals who invested in the legitimate activities of carbon-emitting corporations in the productive ‘old’ economy to an unknown range of investors in the currently unviable ‘new’ economy.”
This is really all about Fabian socialism in other words. Murray reminds us about this: “The Fabians took their name from a Roman general, Quintus Fabius Maximus, who history credited with avoiding the huge losses of battle in favour of weakening adversaries through a long, slow campaign of opposition.
“Over time, the Fabian Society became synonymous with the adoption of socialism by incremental advances, rather than revolution. Julia Gillard and Geoff Gallop are products of the Australian Fabian Society, the Prime Minister notably making an address to the NSW chapter in 2006 devoted to a socialist critique of John Howard’s political success.”
He continues, “The Fabianism inherent in Ms Gillard’s approach to climate change is to mix inextricably a redistribution of wealth through the tax system with the pursuit of putting a price on carbon emissions. These two did not have to be done together. The Government has chosen this way because it achieves the political ends it wants, while convincing Australians it’s about climate change.”
So what about the tax? “On the more personal level, this package places the burden of the passed-on costs of the carbon tax on to the wealthiest one-third of Australians, who get no compensation. On early indications of the Treasury’s overly conservative estimation of those costs, many of the six million households the Prime Minister says are either over-compensated or ‘square’ will be worse off when the full effects become apparent in the second half of next year.
“To become politically acceptable in the 1980s, Labor dropped from its platform the socialist objective: ‘From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs’. It’s clearly back. In modern language, it reads: ‘What’s yours is now mine’….
“We are witnessing the classic signs of a society in which too many take its wealth and good fortune for granted. It has become so familiar to them that they no longer realise where it comes from. That could be worth debating if Ms Gillard attends the annual meeting of the Victorian Fabians in September. Guest speaker? Ross Garnaut, of course.”